Tag Archives: HIGmill

Metso Outotec enhances fine grinding offering with stirred milling portfolio

Metso Outotec’s stirred milling innovations have been bolstered by the introduction of a “comprehensive” portfolio featuring three solutions – Vertimill®, Stirred Media Detritor (pictured) and HIGmill™.

Ideal for grinding finer products, stirred mills are known for their energy efficiency and compact design, reducing floor space requirements and installation complexity. These mills are based on gravity-induced and fluidised technologies, allowing for the optimum equipment solution for all comminution circuits covering secondary, tertiary, fine, ultrafine, regrind and lime slaking applications.

“Stirred milling is an important growth area and integral to our customer’s efforts for sustainable and cost-efficient comminution,” Christoph Hoetzel, Head of Grinding business line at Metso Outotec, said. “With our combined portfolio and our unrivalled experience in this field, Metso Outotec is in the unique position to offer the most suitable solution for any specific application. We are doing this with a holistic view towards efficiency, sustainability, availability and total cost of ownership.”

Metso Outotec stirred mills are suitable for a large range of product sizes. The standardised range includes chamber units of up to 50,000 litres and the world’s largest industry units with up to 6,500 kW of installed power.

All of the company’s stirred mills are part of Metso Outotec’s Planet Positive product portfolio, thanks to the sustainability benefits they deliver.

Vertimill is globally recognised as a market-leading energy-efficient grinding mill.

“Through a low total cost of ownership due to its simple and robust design, it brings substantial improvement to the profitability of concentrators,” the company says.

HIGmill is an advanced, energy-efficient fine and ultra-fine grinding solution that relies on proven technology. With the tall, narrow, vertical body arrangement, grinding media is evenly distributed and mineral particles remain in constant contact, significantly increasing grinding efficiency, the company says. It takes advantage of gravitational forces and GrindForce™ rotor technology to produce a finer grind for mineral liberation.

Stirred Media Detritor (SMD) is a fluidised, vertical stirred mill designed for optimum grinding efficiency for fine and ultrafine grinding products. SMDs have the capacity to operate continuously at full load power draw with no steel contamination of the product, according to the company. They are suitable for both open- and closed-circuit operation.

Filling the mineral processing flowsheet gaps

Crushing, grinding, flotation, solvent extraction, electro winning, tailings management…Metso Outotec covers it all.

The new mineral processing entity might be less than a week old, but many in the industry would have, no doubt, had some burning questions to ask since the planned merger was announced on July 4, 2019.

IM had a chance to put some of these questions to Stephan Kirsch, President Minerals business area, Metso Outotec, gaining an initial impression of what the combination of the two companies means for the Minerals business he heads up.

IM: What big mining industry challenge will the combined group be better placed to tackle? What equipment/solutions/expertise within the group are the most important in achieving these goals?

SK: One issue – although not technology-focused – is community engagement.

Some mining operations in the world face challenges in terms of engaging with local communities and returning benefits to them. There is a social responsibility for mining companies, as they are the operators, but also for mining industry supporters involved in such projects.

That said, the vast majority of the mining industry runs initiatives that ensure communities understand mining companies are not just there to extract the iron, copper or gold and make money from it. They give back to local stakeholders and help improve community standards.

Stephan Kirsch, President Minerals business area, Metso Outotec

From a technology perspective, an industry issue we are well equipped to tackle is tailings management. With our combined offering, we look very seriously into solutions that can involve dewatering, dry stacking, and the reprocessing of tailings.

You asked about the products involved in solving these challenges…that includes filtration technologies, bulk materials handling products for conveying and stacking, and then various ore sorting technologies for the reprocessing.

Another trend to highlight is the use of energy or, more specifically, the need to reduce power consumption. There is some work to do here.

When you go and buy a car, you tend to focus on the fuel consumption. The mining industry, however, aims for high installed power because there is a sentiment that more power in the mill means more product out of the mill, more fines and, as a result, better downstream recoveries. In a way that is true for technologies like horizontal mills, ball mills and SAG mills, but when you turn to different, newer technologies it is not always the case.

One of these technologies is HPGRs which were introduced in the minerals industry in the mid-80s. Today, HPGRs are used in high tonnage, competent, abrasive ore applications due to their lower specific power draw and other downstream benefits compared to conventional technologies.

One can add to this, conserving other natural resources such as water. Water scarcity is obviously a problem and we should look at the recycling of process water wherever possible (that is where the filtration technology comes into play again) at the same time as examining more energy-efficient flowsheets.

There is quite a bit we can do to solve some of these challenges from a mineral processing perspective, but, the problem is, the industry remains conservative and anything new takes time to be implemented sustainably.

IM: I know Metso has previously talked about creating a bulk ore sorting solution for industry. Considering this, do you as Metso Outotec expect to continue leveraging the agreement Outotec has in place with TOMRA to carry out more sensor-based ore sorting projects? Alongside this, will you continue with your own bulk sorting projects?

SK: Early removal of tailings/overburden from the processing plant feed has been the operator’s dream for probably a century! This concept of preconcentration has been a consideration for many years, but in the last 30 or so years, technologies with different sensors have been developed to help with this separation process.

It is the ability to use sensor technology to single out particles on a conveyor belt at an appropriate speed and quantity that is the industry challenge. After all, when it comes to mining, we are talking about bulk materials that must be processed, not single elements like you have in the recycling and food sectors where much of this sensor technology originated from.

You need to look at the operating economics of such plants. When I say economics, I am factoring in throughput and recovery rates: you want a high tonnage and you don’t want to waste your ore, which is already low grade compared with what was being mined, say, 30 years ago.

The answer to your question is that Metso has been looking into preconcentration technologies for some time – we have R&D projects and partners looking at it. The same is the case with Outotec. Going forward, we will analyse this and make a call on whatever is the best combination to continue with such work.

Personally, I am a big believer in segregating waste as early in the process as possible to save energy downstream. But there are technical challenges to this.

IM: Both companies have been expanding their modular offering in recent years (Metso with its flexible FIT™ stations and the smart Foresight™ stations/Outotec with its modular paste backfill plants and HIGmill): is a lot of your mining and metals R&D currently focused on reducing the footprint of your solutions?

SK: Our R&D budget – as you probably heard on the webcast last week – is quite significant when put together. As Metso Outotec committed to keep both of our budgets unchanged, the spend comes to about €100 million ($112 million). A market survey we carried out revealed that, in terms of R&D spend, we are at the top of the industry.

Then, we must spend this money wisely wherever we see it being applied most economically for the benefit of our customers and for Metso Outotec. The modular crushing stations you mention are an area of interest we started developing years ago. We see good potential for this modular offering and will continue to develop it.

As for the percentage of the budget we will dedicate to it, this will – like all R&D projects – be analysed alongside others for crushing, grinding and all separation technologies with a strong focus on product innovations, digitalisation and sustainability.

IM: As you hinted at earlier, do you see tailings management being one of the combined group’s core strengths?

SK: It is one big focus area for us, but only one.

Crushing and grinding, which I mentioned earlier, is another strong area. We are a market leader in some of the crushing technologies we offer, and high up the industry when it comes to grinding technologies. We plan to really expand on this side.

I mentioned HPGRs where we have brilliant, world-class technology, but are missing the installed base. With 20-25 years of HPGR experience, I know we have the technology to make a difference, we just need to effectively bring it to market.

The whole re-grind space is really a future area for us to pursue due to industry-wide issues of falling grades, the need to reduce power consumption and fine grinding requirements.

Back to the original question, I expect Metso Outotec to be a strong player for dewatering and tailings management solutions.

IM: Outotec has a much more developed downstream business in areas like hydrometallurgy and smelting, etc in mining than Metso – will this remain a core part of the combined group?

SK: The front-end strength of Metso for mineral processing plants and the wet processing business focus of Outotec shows how well both companies complement one another. From a technical perspective, this is one of the reasons why the merger of Metso and Outotec makes much sense.

IM: In what segments of the mining and metals market do you see the most complementary solutions within Metso and Outotec?

SK: When we brought these two companies together it is amazing how many renowned international mineral processing experts came with it. We can provide much more comprehensive services to the industry because we can look at the entire flowsheet – from run of mine ore, to metal.

Why is this so important for our customers? You can bundle equipment together to make tenders and dealing with OEMs more economical for mining companies. But, more than that, we can bring a much larger pool of experts to a project to interact and talk with each other to provide the right innovations. This is the ‘one plus one equals three’ effect.

We can also look at balancing the equipment so, for example, the primary crusher is appropriately configured to produce the right ore for the secondary crushing process and the screens are amply sized to effectively carry out their job. That then leads to finding the optimal operating point for the HPGRs and milling equipment and then the downstream processing segment. This type of equipment balancing is highly interesting for the market, creating win-win situations for customers and us as an OEM.

IM: Do you see your relationship with mining customers changing because of this holistic approach?

SK: Yes and no. There are companies that will appreciate this wider offering and there are others that will continue to come to us as part of a more traditional way of tendering for mineral processing equipment.

I see a trend where larger companies are coming back to reliable OEMs because the availability, sustainability and reliability of equipment is much more important than saving a dollar in capex in the first place. That is a trend we have seen strengthen even more recently with COVID; we all know when a plant is not running, it costs operators hundreds of thousands of dollars per day in lost revenue.

Yet, there are always customers that say capex is king. They will do everything they can to tender it most competitively from a capital expense perspective, regardless of the long-term total cost of ownership benefits choosing another solution will have.

IM: How will your digital offering be strengthened through the combination?

SK: At Metso, we started, especially in South America, with a strong operation and presence in terms of remote control and remote operating and maintenance support for processing plants.

The service solutions that have been developed and established in some countries, specifically for Metso and for Metso equipment, in the new company will, of course, be transferred into the installed base of Outotec (for example, a facility previous owned by Outotec in Espoo, Finland, is now a Metso Outotec Performance Center facility).

We often heard from customers: ‘We have great equipment from the Outotec side, but we have never experienced the great Metso services.’

What is so encouraging to see is that there is demand from the industry for such a combination of equipment and services.

IM: Where do you see an overlap of solutions (for instance, possibly crushing and grinding equipment (SAG/AG/ball mills), vertical crushing tech (Vertimill/HIG mill)) or flotation (Outotec has a greater market share but Metso supplies some interesting options like column flotation, plus is the leader in flotation camera monitoring with VisioFroth)? Historically, have you been competing against each other for contracts in these market segments?

SK: As you know, for 12 months or so, there was intense scrutiny from the regulatory authorities to find out if the companies could merge or not because of an overlap, and the answer that came back is yes.

From a regulatory authority perspective, there is no overlap, and, from a technical perspective, I view it in a similar way.

One prime example to give would be the Vertimill (below, left) and the HIGmill (below, right). If you look at both in detail and you talk to customers – which has happened when we have our project meetings and negotiations – you often find that the applications being examined are so specific that both mills, although close when it comes to operating process, have their own sweet spots.

                      

Most of the cases where we, as Metso and Outotec, won or lost a tender, the argument was not around price or sentiment; it was always technical where, for example, the feed was too coarse for the HIGmill, or the end product needed to be so fine that the Vertimill was ruled out.

We, therefore, want to continue offering both technologies; we will not shelve one because we believe there is room for both solutions.

IM: Could this combination then enable you to offer a more customised solution for customers?

SK: That is where the benefit (from the combined Metso Outotec) for the industry really kicks in; our customers are not just getting standard solutions; some tailoring is involved. They will be able to get more specific and solution-oriented, performance-balanced pieces of equipment.

IM: Would you like to add anything else?

SK: I need to say that I am quite excited about the opportunities for the new company, Metso Outotec. There are benefits for both us and the wider industry.

Personally, I am humbled to be elected to run such a large organisation of industry experts and high-quality equipment. It is exciting times ahead.

Outotec adds HIGmill to list of modular mining solutions

Outotec is modularising its high intensity grinding mill solution as it looks to improve safety, speed up return on investment and minimise plant footprints when it comes to grinding mill installations.

The Outotec HIGmill plant (HMP) is a standalone, modular solution for fine grinding that addresses these conflicting requirements, the company says.

Consisting of a vertical HIGmill unit and pre-engineered auxiliary equipment modules to reduce engineering, delivery, construction, and commissioning time and cost, it still provides a safe solution with the flexibility to meet various process, layout, and regulatory requirements, according to the company.

These modules are preassembled in the factory to reduce safety risks and maintain the highest possible quality while also reducing on-site construction time and cost.

“The modules and vertical HIGmill can be arranged in a compact footprint to suit the specific site layout, minimising layout and engineering work,” Outotec said.

The HMP includes an Outotec PSI® 500i particle size analyser for continuous online process monitoring and feedback, while the HIGmill provides process flexibility by adjusting the speed to match the energy input for the required product particle size. This, the company says, minimises the risk of operational challenges and reduced recoveries resulting from variable process conditions.

Bjorn Nielsen, Director – Product Management, Grinding at Outotec, talking about the benefits of using the HIGmill®, told IM earlier this year: “The Outotec HIGmill has several key advantages over other fine and ultra-fine grinding technologies. The vertical arrangement means that gravity helps to compress the media bed, ensuring high contact loads between media symmetrical energy transfer throughout the charge. As a result, the HIGmill has a very broad operating range – energy efficiency is very similar for a range of media charge levels and operating speeds.

“This operating flexibility lets us deal with variations in feed particle size while maintaining efficient operation – there is no point having the most efficient equipment in the world if it cannot be continuously operated at its most efficient.”

Riddhika Jain, Product Manager at Outotec, said the HMP combines Outotec’s leading fine grinding technology with faster installation and a compact footprint while maintaining safety standards.

“This standalone modular solution comes in easily installable pre-assembled sections to speed up returns on investment,” Jain added.

Like Outotec’s other modular solutions – such as the VSF®X modular concept and Modular Paste Backfill Plant – the HMP helps optimise delivery lead time and site construction planning. The delivery scope typically consists of a HIGmill, cyclone, hoppers, pumps, media crane, steel modules, switch room, pipes, valves, instruments, and control system.

Outotec to deliver sustainable plant improvements at First Majestic Silver assets

Outotec has been awarded a contract by First Majestic Silver for the delivery of minerals processing technology for its mill optimisation projects at the San Dimas silver-gold mine and Santa Elena silver-gold mine, in Mexico.

The circa-€15 million ($16.3 million) order has been booked in Outotec’s 2020 March quarter order intake.

Outotec’s scope covers the design and delivery of an AG mill, counter current decantation thickener and a tailings filter for San Dimas, and thickeners and a tailings filter for Santa Elena. The deliveries are expected to take place in 2020 and 2021, it said.

Outotec previously delivered HIGmill® high-intensity grinding mills to First Majestic, with one of these going to the Santa Elena operation (pictured), where it has significantly improved the recovery of silver and gold.

Paul Sohlberg, Head of Outotec’s Minerals Processing business, said: “The energy efficient AG mill and environmentally sound thickeners and tailings filters will enable First Majestic to improve plant operations in a sustainable way.”

Back in January, First Majestic President & CEO, Keith Neumeyer, said the company’s 2020 focus remained on “adopting new innovation projects to modernise our processing plants to achieve higher recoveries, improve efficiencies and reduce operating costs”.

He added: “We have witnessed significant benefits from high-intensity grinding at our Santa Elena operation in 2019 and we plan to install the same technology at San Dimas in 2020.”

The company, at that point, said it expected to increase production at San Dimas by restarting mining operations at the past-producing Tayoltita mine by the end of the March quarter, expecting to ramp up production to 300 t/d by the end of 2020. The Tayoltita mine was the original mining area at San Dimas and known to contain higher silver grades.

It said a new 3,000 t/d HIGmill circuit and AG grinding mill would be installed in the second half of 2020 to further improve recoveries and reduce operating costs.

At Santa Elena, meanwhile, it said it planned to install an AG/SAG grinding mill by the end of the year, with a dual-circuit flowsheet implemented to separate the ultra-fine and coarse particles prior to leaching to further improve metallurgical recoveries and reduce energy costs.

Outotec mineral process equipment destined for Okvau gold project

Outotec says it has been awarded a contract from Renaissance Minerals, a subsidiary of Emerald Resources, for the delivery of process equipment to the greenfield Okvau gold project, in Cambodia.

The order value, booked into Outotec’s 2020 March quarter order intake, is around €13 million ($14.2 million).

Outotec’s scope includes the delivery of an Outotec HIGmill® high intensity grinding mill, a semi-autogenous (SAG) mill, TankCell® flotation cells, an OKTOP® Conditioner, thickeners and spare parts.

The Okvau gold project is in the Mondulkiri province of eastern Cambodia. The 2 Mt/y operation will be the first large-scale mining project in the country, according to Outotec, with project commissioning expected in the June quarter of 2021.

Last year, ASX-listed mining contractor, MACA, entered into a memorandum of understanding with a subsidiary of Emerald Resources to supply equipment and contract mining services at the project.

Paul Sohlberg, Head of Outotec’s Minerals Processing business, said: “We are pleased to be part of Cambodia’s first significant gold processing project with Emerald’s highly credentialed gold project development team.

“Outotec’s leading technologies such as energy efficient ultrafine grinding, proven flotation technology for low grade sulphide ore and superior thickening technology, enable our customer to do profitable business sustainably. This order will strengthen Outotec’s position as a supplier of advanced minerals processing technologies in Southeast Asia.”